Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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C R O M ! ! !

The new Tadlow/Prometheus recording of the complete score for Conan the Barbarian does not attempt to slavishly reproduce the original. Instead, James Fitzpatrick, Luc Van de Ven and Nic Raine have strived to re-create the performance of Basil Poledouris' epic masterpiece tbat the composer had always hoped for but couldn't get out of the orchestra. There are many, myself included, who feel that the raggedness of the performance on the original soundtrack fits the rough-hewn quality of the music. I still feel that way, but while this new set in no way replaces my Varèse Sarabande copy of the score, it can stand proudly next to it on my shelf as a completely viable alternative.

Sonically, James Fitzpatrick has done it again, recreating the particular ambiance of a recording without falling prey to any of the problems of the original. The sound quality of Jan Holzner and Michael Hradisky's recording is fantastic, but it is consistent with the overall tone of Pedegro Savina's work on the original. The clarity of sound is aided by the more traditional orchestral set-up favored by Nic Raine. Unfortunately, the CD appears to be mastered too hot, which creates some congestion in the louder passages, but nothing that I couldn't get past for the sake of the performance.

The corrected orchestrations means that there are some passages, such as "Theology/Civilization" that sound quite different from their original soundtrack counterparts. The female choir during "The Tree of Woe" makes gives that cue a more religioso feel. Some pieces are vastly different; "Conan Leaves Valeria" goes off in a different direction from "The Leaving." Those are the main differences, but there are some cases where the performance on the new recording is just plain better, "Pit Fights" being the primary example (the most improvements in that arena to come from the cues that weren't included on the original album or the Varèse Sarabande expanded re-issue which was based on Poledouris' plans for a 2 LP set in 1982 that never materialized).

I'm sure that the differences between this set and the original recording will leave some fans of the original soundtrack recording cold, but I'm about as big a fan of this score as you can get and it's gotten me pretty fired up (and I'm I'm all sick and miserable too). I just think it's the bee's knees to have such an interesting variation on one of my favorite film scores of all time that reflects more what Poledouris intended than what he ended up with.

I have to admit that the version of "Chamber of Mirrors" from Conan the Destroyer that is included here makes me hope that Prometheus and Tadlow join forces again for that score. Poledouris apparently found the performance of the main title to have been so dire that he left it off of his original soundtrack LP. It would be nice to see this redressed as well.
Tags: audio, basil poledouris, conan, film music
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